Being a “digital nomad” or a travel writer has become a trendy occupation on the internet. It seems that more and more people are leaving the 9-to-5 office in the name of “location independence” and travel.
I’m not one of those people. When I first started to travel, I thought I wanted to be. But just like the 9-to-5, it didn’t suit me very well.
I do, however, freelance. And that simply means I sell my writing for income. I do this while I maintain my primary occupation as an English teacher.
Why do both?
I’m an ambivert (and a Gemini). While I thrive off of being alone, I also need to work with people, face to face. Freelance writing helps me be alone with my thoughts, sifting through all that I experience from the world. Teaching helps me connect with people, and so I get the best of both worlds while conserving energy.
Teaching also gives me a structure to my day and a community to live within. While freelancing allows for more flexibility in my schedule (more on that later).
Because you can do it from anywhere, freelancing in general, not just writing, is a good way to maximize your time abroad.
One of the biggest underrated aspects of living abroad and travel is the downtime that happens in between all the big stuff. In my case, as a teacher, after I’m done with prepping and grading, I have free hours. In Spain especially, there are a lot of holidays, not to mention the summer months I have pretty much free of teaching.
I used these free periods and holidays to work. I mean, yes, I enjoyed some of the time off. But I’m also an American with burdensome student loan debt and a hard work ethic who is more or less permanently abroad. Sometimes it gets difficult not to work.
So during those off hours, I started sending out pitches and query letters to potential clients. I’ve also found myself writing articles on some of the holidays we’ve had in the past months.
Why I Don’t Go Home to a 9-to-5 Job
When I first moved abroad five years ago, going home to a 9-to-5 was one of the last things I ever wanted to do. These days, my priorities have shifted a bit and I’m considering the “going home” part.
I should say, too, that freelancing isn’t all roses and butterflies. It’s a daily hustle. You have to constantly put yourself out there, which gets tiring and you do have to be careful of burn out. That goes for teaching, too.
But I like that I can choose which projects or students I want to work with (to an extent). And if I make those decisions wisely, I can choose what I want to write and how I want to teach. I also like that I can take breaks to clean my house or play the piano or do some yoga in between.
This isn’t always the case in a 9-to-5. While I do miss the security, the structure and the benefits that come with a typical job, the freedoms that come with the lifestyle I’ve chosen aren’t too bad either.